Author: Emma Yasinski

Emma Yasinski

I am a freelance science and medical journalist, fascinated by how the scientific process leads to incredible discoveries, but also can lead to publication bias leaning toward positive findings and minimizing negatives. With a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Lafayette College and a Master’s in Science and Medical Journalism from Boston University, I’ve written about clinical trial transparency, organ donation, and basic molecular biology for publications like The Scientist, The Atlantic, Undark.org, Kaiser Health News, and more. At MedShadow, I research and write about the sometimes unexpected ways that medicines can affect us, and what we can do if and when it does.

DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) got a bad reputation in the 1980s and 1990s when reports circulated suggesting that the active ingredient in many bug sprays caused seizures, brain swelling, and death. Since then, researchers have assured the public that the chemical is safe and lowers the risk of contracting insect-borne infections such as Lyme disease, West Nile Virus, and Zika. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have reviewed case reports and clinical trials and state that, as long as it’s used according to the directions, DEET is both safe and effective. While DEET is one…

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The primary cause of acne is clogged pores. Your pores can be clogged by bacteria, dead-skin cells or sebum, an oily substance secreted by your skin. The clogs cause redness and inflammation, which can be painful. Some doctors and patients believe that our diets can be the root cause of certain types of acne, but, for the most part, our lifestyles and hygiene are not to blame. Many women experience hormonal acne, which flares up at specific times during their menstrual cycles, or because of hormonal conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a disorder that affects many women. What…

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It’s been more than two decades since scientists first recognized that perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), compounds used in the manufacturing of a myriad everyday products, could be bad for our health. Still researchers are barely scratching the surface of what these more than 12,000 different chemicals can do. Experts from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report last week describing what we do know and making recommendations for clinicians to test for PFAS exposure and provide guidance to lowering the levels of the chemicals in their bodies. Here’s what you need to know. What Are…

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On this day, half a century ago, a study showed that a drug called diethylstilbestrol (DES) given to pregnant mothers to reduce preterm births, instead raised the risk of a rare vaginal cancer in their daughters to 40 times that of the general population. Since then, scientists have discovered that these so-called DES daughters, sons, grandchildren and the DES mothers are also more likely to experience malformed reproductive organs, breast cancer and a slew of reproductive problems. MedShadow’s founder, Suzanne Robotti, is one of those daughters.   “Between five and 10 million pregnant women were prescribed DES over 30 years,” says…

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✅ This article was reviewed by Cecile Levy, MD, member of our MedShadow Medical Advisory Board. Seventy percent of adults say they have sensitive skin, according to a 2019 study. Erum Ilyas, MD, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology, explains that sensitive skin is not a medical condition in and of itself. The self-diagnosed condition can mean different things to different people. “Usually when people say they have sensitive skin, they are implying that their skin gets irritated really easily,” he says. Your skin can get irritated for a variety of reasons, from dryness to allergies and even because of products…

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Over the past decade, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has initiated or supported recalls on a handful of drugs, including metformin, ranitidine (Zantac), angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARB) (valsartan, losartan and irbesartan), varenicline (Chantix), rifampin (Rifadin) and rifapentine (Priftin) — which treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and other conditions, such as heart disease and high blood pressure and aid in smoking cessation. These drugs that treat a variety of conditions have been found to contain the same chemical contaminant: N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), which may cause cancer. MedShadow answers frequently asked questions about the chemical itself and the drugs that contain…

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Samantha Welch spent about 11 months avoiding the direct sunlight as best she could. She had been prescribed isotretinoin, an oral medication that treats cystic acne. A few weeks after she started taking it, she discovered that “my skin was extremely sensitized,” she says. “My face and lips were dry and visibly flaking. Direct sunlight during midday would slightly sting, even with sunscreen on. I’ve had to avoid the sun altogether.” While Welch’s prescription was intended to affect her skin, many drugs that seem to have nothing to do with your skin can cause sensitivity to sunlight. For example, over…

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We all know we’re supposed to wear sunscreen daily to prevent sunburns, premature aging and skin cancer, though many of us fall short of reaching that goal. Some reasons we forgo the creamy protection are that we don’t think we’re at risk, we don’t like the greasy lotion, we don’t like its smell or we aren’t happy about the the white, or even purple, cast it can leave on our skin. But those aren’t the only reasons to choose carefully. While using sunscreen regularly is crucial to preventing skin cancer, some sunscreen ingredients can do more harm than good. Here’s…

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